Ahhh the wonderful sound of the statement “Freedom Of Speech”. It is as pleasing to the ear as the opening of a coke bottle on a hot summers day...TSSSSSSS – then gulp away at the quenching taste. For a while now i have always been curious about the terminology of “Freedom Of Speech” because to me freedom is absolute; it is limitless; unrestricted and unchallenged. The fact is even a child will come to realize that “freedom of speech” is not necessarily free and in fact is subject to so many terms and conditions that the meaning is deteriorated almost immediately.
As with the latest major protests around the world because of the film “Innocence of Muslims” we saw riots across the Muslim world where almost 20 people died as a result. The United States insisted it would protect freedom of speech, which is fair enough but is consistency not to be expected? It is not only the United States but many liberal “freedom” loving nations have a hard time grasping the meaning of Freedom. Recently when France agreed to publish derogatory paintings of the Prophet Muhammad in a magazine with him bent down on all fours the government then initiated a law making it ILLEGAL to protest this action, yes even a peaceful protest is forbidden!
This must then beg the question- is freedom of expression not a natural response to freedom of speech? We express ourselves in many ways and not always is it true that we respond a word for a word. People who have not been exposed to the sweetness of “Freedom of Speech” cannot be expected to grasp it, nor adapt to it- not overnight at least. Hence when we see angry Muslims in third world countries shout and riot at the mockery of their faith we see their expression is free and history tells us they react to such degradation with violence, it’s not an ideal expression, it’s not speech but it is how some limited people react.
When someone attacks your mother and insults you to your face; people practice their expression/reaction in many ways. A person might turn away and invite more bullying. Another person might return the scathing words with more scathing words (leaving an endless cycle of division) and others would knock the lights out of that person (some would say the offender had it coming).
The fact is Freedom of speech is severely limited and i will not stand up for it, not until it loses itself from the shackles of hypocrisy. Let me give you some wonderful examples of how “Freedom Of Speech” is a failure in our society and is often used as a tool to provoke, insult, attack and degrade people and the protection is limited to only certain people, for one group expressing your speech against them is fine (Some minorities) whilst for another group it is forbidden and tabboo (Other minorities/ Governments).
Let me start locally here in Australia- last month radio personality Alan Jones (a controversial man) recently made a jab at the deceased father of Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard. Alan Jones stated that her father died “due to shame” – alluding to the lies, deceit and misconduct of her government and policies. An absolutely stupid and shocking thing to say without a shadow of a doubt, but indeed it is his right. No? After this occurred many companies boycotted Alan Jones and his radio station, people disappeared from around him, he was shunned all over the media and was forced to apologize. He now lives life as a shunned man, gifts taken away from him, sponsors disbanding from any association he may have and an embarrassing position all came from his supposed “Freedom Of Speech”. So attacking the Prime Minister and speaking ill of the dead is a no go zone. Fair enough.
Next case in point is NBA player Amare Stoudemire who plays for the NY Knicks. In June 2012 he was fined by the NBA for stating something on his personal twitter. What did he do? He had a fight with a supposed “fan”. The fan made a statement that he should lift his game and make up for his bad season. Amare then personal messaged this “fan” inciting him with gay slurs. This “offensive” and “derogatory” language cost him $50,000 USD as he was fined for his misconduct. It is unknown if this fan was homosexual or not, but from this drastic example we see a man that used his PERSONAL twitter and sent a PERSONAL message still managed to be fined for “hate speech” even online. So attacking homosexuals is a no go zone. Fair enough.
Moving forward we have the world famous case of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. This man has been responsible for shedding so much light on how politics works and how governments run. Indicating their hypocritical nature and deceit amongst their neighbors. He released information that was true, accurate and direct sources from the offenders themselves. He revealed to the world the ugly side of politics that we all know exists, yet we never wanted to admit or own up to. This has led to a bounty on his head, quiet literally. If Assange is extradited to the United States he could face the death penalty for Espionage and treason. This Hero to the people has become a wicked villain to the governments, from the British police surrounding and attempting to storm the embassy he is held in, to the re-emerging of “rape” accusations coming from Sweden this man has been tormented and continues to be tormented for expression his freedom of speech with these leaks. So attacking the government and politics is a no go zone. Fair enough.
Finally we have the case of a substitute teacher in an L.A school in October of 2011. Patricia McAllister was fired for making “Anti-Semetic” remarks even though what she said was no anti-semetic but anti ANTI-semetic. During an OCCUPY LA protest Patricia said:
“I think that the Zionist Jews who are running these big banks and our federal reserve, which is not run by the federal government – they need to be run out of this country”.
Please note that Patricia made this statement in her own time, in her own company and not within school grounds or anywhere near students. The Los Angeles Unifed School District confirmed that Ms. McAllister was fired as they don’t stand for “Disrespectful, intolerant or discriminatory behaviour”– all in the while they confirm this was her own “private opinion”. Why was her comment Anti-Semetic? We know the Zionists she talk about are condemned by most Orthodox Jews. So attacking Zionists is a no go zone. Fair enough.
Is it fair enough? Or do these examples show the clear crack on the windscreen of “Freedom Of Speech?“. It is so inconsistent within itself. It is so broad in it’s terminology but so limited in it’s capability. It is so selective on who can say what. I do not support “Freedom Of Speech” because it is a system that is flawed. It is a product of the Western Liberal world that we love and desire so much, yet there is so little that we understand. We staunchly stand up and defend something we have not grasped nor really thought about. If freedom of speech is a right and if it is actually free- then the above examples would not exist. Either speech is free and unrestricted for all humans, or this is simply a banner that we wave around for convenience, a flag that we use to insult others, then hide behind. Let’s face is folks, freedom of speech is not a fact, it’s a farce!
Peace, Salam Alaykum.